Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: #MeToo

yesterday’s ghosts

yesterday’s ghosts
stir in their graves
dismembered

They want to shame and blame me. Turn me into the problem I am not. Make it my fault. Or the fault of my overactive emotions or hormones run wild.

And the tears. If I would just stop getting all emotional about it. It’s over and done with, Sister. Get used to it. This is the way of the world. If you don’t like the heat, don’t stand so close to the fire.

I’m proud to be a thriving survivor. Like other women and men, I’ve been sexually harassed, humiliated and punished physically, verbally and emotionally. Sadly, the patterns of my childhood and youth didn’t stop when I became an adult woman — a supposedly mature, thoughtful, educated, gifted, responsible, compassionate, dependable, reliable woman, true to her word.

My recent nightmare with its scoffer’s row of men intent on intimidating me brought it all back. As did my recent review of private journal entries from my years as a seminary professor and dean. To say nothing of public figures coming forward to talk about their experiences.

Where will this lead? Is it simply the media event of the year? I pray it is not.

My father set the stage early in my life. He was the boss. I was not. He wore his medals proudly: Male, Ordained, Father, The Boss.

Instead of learning to stand on my own two feet without apology, I was subjected to formation in unquestioning submission to men (unless they were obviously ‘bad’ men), submission to my teachers, submission to my employers, submission to the governing powers, and submission to God as a disobedient, rebellious, stubborn and angry little girl.

My father also formed me in the sick opposites of these submissions. These included lack of respect for my female body, female voice, thoughts, instincts, intuitions, emotions, and my identity as God’s beloved daughter child. They also included formation in going along to get along.

  • Smiling whether I wanted to or not
  • Being polite instead of truthful
  • Not hurting other people’s feelings
  • Not embarrassing myself or others in public
  • Doing as I was told, without asking questions or grimacing

Today I’m holding out for women and men who won’t allow their ghosts to rest in peace until justice is done. Not for us, but for all the children of this world, especially those without safe allies. Otherwise, this will indeed become a passing fad–for all but the powerful few.

I’m in this  for the long haul. How about you?

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 7 December 2017
Image found at raisingintuitivechildren.com

I was just a beginner…

I was just a beginner when it happened. In a supposedly safe place. I had a title and stature within an academic community.

From my childhood I’d experienced worse. Regularly. In ways that raised deep shame and self-blame in me. Bad girl.

But this was different. I was an adult. A colleague among adults who were followers of Jesus Christ.

It happened in a crowded hallway between classes. Without a whisper of warning. Just walking to my next class, in conversation with an adult man.

He wasn’t a stranger and he wasn’t my father. He professed to be a supporter of women’s full humanity, and our right to fair and equal access to theological education as students and as professors.

Perhaps he wasn’t thinking? I could give a thousand questions you might have asked me. None would have erased the sudden chill and shame of feeling an uninvited hand patting me on my butt.

I switched my briefcase to my right hand, moved over slightly and kept walking through the hallway as though nothing had happened. Indeed, it never happened again. I maintained my distance, without giving up my friendly demeanor.

My friend touched my body in a way I wouldn’t dream of touching his. It wasn’t a hand on my arm, but my butt. I believed that any attempt to draw attention to this would have made things worse. I felt trapped.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not my big #MeToo story. I’ve already told that in earlier posts—not just about the Shopkeeper, but about my father’s attempts to subdue me, and my first employer’s determination to humiliate me as a young woman just out of high school.

So why tell it? After all, it happened in the blink of an eye.

I’m telling it because we need to attend to the daily impertinences and seemingly small ways in which women, girls, boys and men who aren’t considered manly are reminded of their place and who has power over them.

I’m also telling it because there are millions of everyday people aching to let someone know what happened or is now happening to them. Are we able and willing to listen from our hearts? Without offering solutions or trying to re-write the stories we hear?

Sometimes silence and listening without judgment are the best gifts we give each other. In fact, to listen well is to follow well. The way I imagine Jesus Christ following us and being there when we’re ready for help.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…. (from Psalm 23)

I’m grateful for the women, men, young people and even children who have listened to my story, and shared with me their own experiences. In some ways, this is the table God has set before me in the presence of my enemies—who are more like I am than I could ever guess.

Praying you have a wonderful Sabbath rest.
Elouise 

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 11 November 2017
Photo found at theanvilnewsletter.blogspot.com
Daily Prompt:Neophyte

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